Pembrokeshire Council Tax payers face 3.4% rise

First published in News

COUNCIL tax payers already managing tightly squeezed household budgets look set to be dealt another blow.

Proposals for Pembrokeshire County Council’s 2014/15 budget include a 3.4% increase in council tax to help the council make £20m savings in two years.

If approved, council tax for Band D properties will increase by £25.38, from £741.17 to £766.55, generating an extra £1.5m income.

The proposed increase is double that of the 1.7% rise in 2012/13 and up from last year’s 2.95% increase.

The budget is to go before cabinet on Monday (January 13).

According to a report prepared for members by the council’s director of finance and leisure, Mark Lewis, the 2014/15 budget “has been developed against the backdrop of the most difficult financial settlement” in the council’s 18-year history.

Its initial target of £7m savings over the next two years has nearly trebled to £20m – including £12.9m in 2014/15 - following a 3.7% reduction in Welsh Government funding.

The previous year, the Welsh Government indicated a 0.9% funding increase for 2014/15 and there are now concerns over the reliability of indications of a 1.5% reduction for 2015/16.

The report stated the next two years will be “extremely challenging”. It added: “Pay and price increases, allied to demographic pressure within adult social services and the protection of schools budgets will accentuate the scale of the cost reduction programme across other services.

“The scale of the challenge ahead is such that a whole range of new service delivery arrangements will need to be brought forward to ensure that sustainable cost/service reductions can be made within a short timescale.”

The total budget requirement for 2014/15 is £207.2m, down from £211.8m in 2013/14.

Council housing rents also look set to increase. Proposals detailed in a separate report by Mr Lewis, also due to go before cabinet on Monday, include a 2.5% rent increase for 2014/15 to take effect from April 7 2014.

This will increase the average weekly council house rent from £64.12 to £65.72.

Comments (14)

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5:07pm Tue 7 Jan 14

Electra1 says...

And what are we getting in return?
And what are we getting in return? Electra1
  • Score: 6

5:49pm Tue 7 Jan 14

Gogledd says...

lol...well I have said it before and I will say it again...if we got rid of half of them and the chief exec and the leader of the IPPG that would go towards a lot of it wouldnt it...???????
lol...well I have said it before and I will say it again...if we got rid of half of them and the chief exec and the leader of the IPPG that would go towards a lot of it wouldnt it...??????? Gogledd
  • Score: 7

6:40pm Tue 7 Jan 14

teifion says...

I see the pigs at the trough have enough time to vote Gogledd down -
FYI West Sussex County Council a larger council, bigger workforce,bigger budget (and a Chief Exec on "only" £175k ) have got rid of the post of Chief Executive as a cost saving measure - I know this'll not happen in Pembrokeshire as the councillors ***** would be squeezed very hard - we all know who runs the council - Its not the councillors :(
I see the pigs at the trough have enough time to vote Gogledd down - FYI West Sussex County Council a larger council, bigger workforce,bigger budget (and a Chief Exec on "only" £175k ) have got rid of the post of Chief Executive as a cost saving measure - I know this'll not happen in Pembrokeshire as the councillors ***** would be squeezed very hard - we all know who runs the council - Its not the councillors :( teifion
  • Score: 0

7:12pm Tue 7 Jan 14

taff2010 says...

Pay more and get less service, now that's democracy for you!
Pay more and get less service, now that's democracy for you! taff2010
  • Score: 5

9:51pm Tue 7 Jan 14

malcolm calver says...

Here we go again, when will county councillors realize the need to actually reduce the cost of Pembrokeshire County Council. The 3.4% increase will have to be paid after the wage earner has paid the deductions on his / her wages
When statements such as “by increasing the council tax by 3.4% it will help the council make £20m savings in two years” I feel there is little hope.
Many council houses are occupied by well off tenants with both husband and wife being wage earners. and is some cases also several children. I note that it is proposed to increase the average rent of council houses from £64.12 to £65.72, surely when those renting private accommodation are paying much more than this it is time to examine the level of rent paid by all tenants and the amount of rent paid should be based on income.
Here we go again, when will county councillors realize the need to actually reduce the cost of Pembrokeshire County Council. The 3.4% increase will have to be paid after the wage earner has paid the deductions on his / her wages When statements such as “by increasing the council tax by 3.4% it will help the council make £20m savings in two years” I feel there is little hope. Many council houses are occupied by well off tenants with both husband and wife being wage earners. and is some cases also several children. I note that it is proposed to increase the average rent of council houses from £64.12 to £65.72, surely when those renting private accommodation are paying much more than this it is time to examine the level of rent paid by all tenants and the amount of rent paid should be based on income. malcolm calver
  • Score: 14

7:53am Wed 8 Jan 14

Indeview J Hudson says...

When the Council's external auditor finds that the majority of Councillors lack the motivation and capacity to challenge decisions/proposals what hope is there that the budget proposals put to cabinet , by officers, will be even questioned? The recent example of Cabinet scrutiny/questioning over Commercial property grants does not inspire confidence.
While the resulting proposed rate increase has been announced, the cabinet report is silent on the amount proposed to be collected through income from direct charges for services.
The revised 2013/14 service income estimates reveal an increase of some £5.7m over the original service income estimates approved by our councillors for 2013/14.
Of course, there is no explanation of how this extra income has accrued. It is not even mentioned.
Our councillors cannot therefore begin to question the balance between the total income to be sought from us as individual " customers " for services and collectively from us through the Council Tax
The proposed 2014/15 "cost reductions" outlined in Appendix D include a number of additional increases to income above normal inflation by way of charges for specified services.

Also of note is the proposed reduction of £1m to be achieved through staff vacancies. The latest information available on staff expenditure is from the 2012/13 Accounts where total expenditure on staff was £5.4m. How realistic is the assumption that £1m can be saved in 2014/15 through vacancies?

At the recent cabinet member public meetings on "savings", I asked about those corporate central services provided by way of recharges across "front line" services. Budget for these services are not openly disclosed in the annual budget. Such budgets are the corporate responsibility of the Leader and CEO. These budgets are not even open to independent scrutiny by councillors, they do not even know about them.
What harm is there in openness and transparency, especially when councillors are apparently blindly putting their hand in our pockets?
When the Council's external auditor finds that the majority of Councillors lack the motivation and capacity to challenge decisions/proposals what hope is there that the budget proposals put to cabinet , by officers, will be even questioned? The recent example of Cabinet scrutiny/questioning over Commercial property grants does not inspire confidence. While the resulting proposed rate increase has been announced, the cabinet report is silent on the amount proposed to be collected through income from direct charges for services. The revised 2013/14 service income estimates reveal an increase of some £5.7m over the original service income estimates approved by our councillors for 2013/14. Of course, there is no explanation of how this extra income has accrued. It is not even mentioned. Our councillors cannot therefore begin to question the balance between the total income to be sought from us as individual " customers " for services and collectively from us through the Council Tax The proposed 2014/15 "cost reductions" outlined in Appendix D include a number of additional increases to income above normal inflation by way of charges for specified services. Also of note is the proposed reduction of £1m to be achieved through staff vacancies. The latest information available on staff expenditure is from the 2012/13 Accounts where total expenditure on staff was £5.4m. How realistic is the assumption that £1m can be saved in 2014/15 through vacancies? At the recent cabinet member public meetings on "savings", I asked about those corporate central services provided by way of recharges across "front line" services. Budget for these services are not openly disclosed in the annual budget. Such budgets are the corporate responsibility of the Leader and CEO. These budgets are not even open to independent scrutiny by councillors, they do not even know about them. What harm is there in openness and transparency, especially when councillors are apparently blindly putting their hand in our pockets? Indeview J Hudson
  • Score: 14

11:29am Wed 8 Jan 14

Indeview J Hudson says...

Thanks to an eagle eyed correspondent, david Edwards, I must correct my figure of £5.4m staff costs.
This should of course be much, much more, a 2012/13 total of £135m in fact, including a mere £24m in respect of Allocated recharges which I think is in respect of the missing central budgets..

How much easier life would be if the Council openly presented budget details.
My question still remains, What are the implications on service delivery for us, if staff are not to be replaced?
Thanks to an eagle eyed correspondent, david Edwards, I must correct my figure of £5.4m staff costs. This should of course be much, much more, a 2012/13 total of £135m in fact, including a mere £24m in respect of Allocated recharges which I think is in respect of the missing central budgets.. How much easier life would be if the Council openly presented budget details. My question still remains, What are the implications on service delivery for us, if staff are not to be replaced? Indeview J Hudson
  • Score: 4

1:53pm Wed 8 Jan 14

philipw says...

A 3.4% increase is way more than any pay or pension increase received by Pembs residents.
I have,and will continue to support WG but I wish they had followed England's example and froze council tax. This would have forced Pembs to make the really big decisions that are needed to bring council spending under control. I suspect that all is happening is the day of reckoning is being put off.
Thanks to John Hudson for his excellent explanations earlier.
Also, I rarely agree with Malcolm, but he has a point about council rents. There is an argument for them to he brought in line with the private sector for better off tenants, although for poorer ones it would just mean an increase on the housing benefit bill.
A 3.4% increase is way more than any pay or pension increase received by Pembs residents. I have,and will continue to support WG but I wish they had followed England's example and froze council tax. This would have forced Pembs to make the really big decisions that are needed to bring council spending under control. I suspect that all is happening is the day of reckoning is being put off. Thanks to John Hudson for his excellent explanations earlier. Also, I rarely agree with Malcolm, but he has a point about council rents. There is an argument for them to he brought in line with the private sector for better off tenants, although for poorer ones it would just mean an increase on the housing benefit bill. philipw
  • Score: 7

2:01pm Wed 8 Jan 14

Electra1 says...

malcolm calver wrote:
Here we go again, when will county councillors realize the need to actually reduce the cost of Pembrokeshire County Council. The 3.4% increase will have to be paid after the wage earner has paid the deductions on his / her wages
When statements such as “by increasing the council tax by 3.4% it will help the council make £20m savings in two years” I feel there is little hope.
Many council houses are occupied by well off tenants with both husband and wife being wage earners. and is some cases also several children. I note that it is proposed to increase the average rent of council houses from £64.12 to £65.72, surely when those renting private accommodation are paying much more than this it is time to examine the level of rent paid by all tenants and the amount of rent paid should be based on income.
Someone was telling me yesterday that her council house rent was going up to £80+.
[quote][p][bold]malcolm calver[/bold] wrote: Here we go again, when will county councillors realize the need to actually reduce the cost of Pembrokeshire County Council. The 3.4% increase will have to be paid after the wage earner has paid the deductions on his / her wages When statements such as “by increasing the council tax by 3.4% it will help the council make £20m savings in two years” I feel there is little hope. Many council houses are occupied by well off tenants with both husband and wife being wage earners. and is some cases also several children. I note that it is proposed to increase the average rent of council houses from £64.12 to £65.72, surely when those renting private accommodation are paying much more than this it is time to examine the level of rent paid by all tenants and the amount of rent paid should be based on income.[/p][/quote]Someone was telling me yesterday that her council house rent was going up to £80+. Electra1
  • Score: 3

2:25pm Wed 8 Jan 14

teifion says...

Indeview J Hudson wrote:
Thanks to an eagle eyed correspondent, david Edwards, I must correct my figure of £5.4m staff costs.
This should of course be much, much more, a 2012/13 total of £135m in fact, including a mere £24m in respect of Allocated recharges which I think is in respect of the missing central budgets..

How much easier life would be if the Council openly presented budget details.
My question still remains, What are the implications on service delivery for us, if staff are not to be replaced?
I think you'll find the answer to your question (however it will be jazzed up by the spin doctor) We don't give a toss - Mr Jones is still on £200k and the councillors of the IPPG are doing VERY well - one way or another.
By that of course I mean they may be retired or have a job AND get loads more dosh for being a couuncillor /lap dogs who don't make waves (to mix a metaphor;-)
[quote][p][bold]Indeview J Hudson[/bold] wrote: Thanks to an eagle eyed correspondent, david Edwards, I must correct my figure of £5.4m staff costs. This should of course be much, much more, a 2012/13 total of £135m in fact, including a mere £24m in respect of Allocated recharges which I think is in respect of the missing central budgets.. How much easier life would be if the Council openly presented budget details. My question still remains, What are the implications on service delivery for us, if staff are not to be replaced?[/p][/quote]I think you'll find the answer to your question (however it will be jazzed up by the spin doctor) We don't give a toss - Mr Jones is still on £200k and the councillors of the IPPG are doing VERY well - one way or another. By that of course I mean they may be retired or have a job AND get loads more dosh for being a couuncillor /lap dogs who don't make waves (to mix a metaphor;-) teifion
  • Score: 2

2:50pm Wed 8 Jan 14

Indeview J Hudson says...

The statutory Housing Account is separate and costs are wholly funded by Housing rents.
The Council's services provided to us, are funded by a mixture of Welsh government Support grant, non domestic rates paid by businesses, council tax paid by home owners and charges levied by the council for services which we as individuals use, regardless of ability to pay.
In the latter case, if we can't or don't use services and they do not, in the eyes of the Council pay their way. It is likely that they will be closed even if the meet a social need.
There does not seem to be any political input before proposals to increase charges are rolled out. We do not get to hear anything about the two secret member's budget seminars.
The statutory Housing Account is separate and costs are wholly funded by Housing rents. The Council's services provided to us, are funded by a mixture of Welsh government Support grant, non domestic rates paid by businesses, council tax paid by home owners and charges levied by the council for services which we as individuals use, regardless of ability to pay. In the latter case, if we can't or don't use services and they do not, in the eyes of the Council pay their way. It is likely that they will be closed even if the meet a social need. There does not seem to be any political input before proposals to increase charges are rolled out. We do not get to hear anything about the two secret member's budget seminars. Indeview J Hudson
  • Score: 4

8:48am Thu 9 Jan 14

Andrew Lye says...

@ Teifion ..
You mention West Sussex County Council no longer has a Chief Executive. Neither does the County Council in my former county of Wiltshire.
In England, Councils have been having to make tough decisions for a few years now and it seem Pembrokeshire expected £7m and the actual figure is £20m and tough times are now only starting to bite.
I wonder if the Council was not prepared for the worst case scenario.
I am still waiting for the consultation that PCC will be having with its residents as to how they propose to make the cuts. Think I will be waiting for a long time as they are making the decisions at County Hall without taking on board our concerns.
@ Teifion .. You mention West Sussex County Council no longer has a Chief Executive. Neither does the County Council in my former county of Wiltshire. In England, Councils have been having to make tough decisions for a few years now and it seem Pembrokeshire expected £7m and the actual figure is £20m and tough times are now only starting to bite. I wonder if the Council was not prepared for the worst case scenario. I am still waiting for the consultation that PCC will be having with its residents as to how they propose to make the cuts. Think I will be waiting for a long time as they are making the decisions at County Hall without taking on board our concerns. Andrew Lye
  • Score: 4

9:36am Thu 9 Jan 14

teifion says...

Andrew Lye wrote:
@ Teifion ..
You mention West Sussex County Council no longer has a Chief Executive. Neither does the County Council in my former county of Wiltshire.
In England, Councils have been having to make tough decisions for a few years now and it seem Pembrokeshire expected £7m and the actual figure is £20m and tough times are now only starting to bite.
I wonder if the Council was not prepared for the worst case scenario.
I am still waiting for the consultation that PCC will be having with its residents as to how they propose to make the cuts. Think I will be waiting for a long time as they are making the decisions at County Hall without taking on board our concerns.
It's been reported here before that someone suggested that BPJs remuneration should be looked at at the same time as those on the lowest wage should lose up to £5k but HE vetoed it (as although he's officially a public servant he does come across as Pembs Dictator :(

- I wonder If it was around the same time that he was discussing how to avoid or is it evade (can never remember which is legal) tax! in a tax funded post - couldn't make it up could you?
[quote][p][bold]Andrew Lye[/bold] wrote: @ Teifion .. You mention West Sussex County Council no longer has a Chief Executive. Neither does the County Council in my former county of Wiltshire. In England, Councils have been having to make tough decisions for a few years now and it seem Pembrokeshire expected £7m and the actual figure is £20m and tough times are now only starting to bite. I wonder if the Council was not prepared for the worst case scenario. I am still waiting for the consultation that PCC will be having with its residents as to how they propose to make the cuts. Think I will be waiting for a long time as they are making the decisions at County Hall without taking on board our concerns.[/p][/quote]It's been reported here before that someone suggested that BPJs remuneration should be looked at at the same time as those on the lowest wage should lose up to £5k but HE vetoed it (as although he's officially a public servant he does come across as Pembs Dictator :( - I wonder If it was around the same time that he was discussing how to avoid or is it evade (can never remember which is legal) tax! in a tax funded post - couldn't make it up could you? teifion
  • Score: 2

8:36pm Sun 12 Jan 14

Welshman23 says...

How many council tenants are in arrears for non payment of their rents. It seems that the idiots running our local authority are out of touch with reality. Let's start charging the employes who work in the Kremlin have to pay for car parking and using the toilets. I have said before if we all stop paying our rates the council will go bust.
How many council tenants are in arrears for non payment of their rents. It seems that the idiots running our local authority are out of touch with reality. Let's start charging the employes who work in the Kremlin have to pay for car parking and using the toilets. I have said before if we all stop paying our rates the council will go bust. Welshman23
  • Score: 1

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